Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Guest Post - Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food - (PG)



For our first guest post, I'm pleased to welcome Surgeon J. Brown. Her review of BERENSTAIN BEARS AND TOO MUCH JUNK FOOD reminds us that there are other things we need to watch out for in kid's books besides sex, violence, and language. Although Dr. Brown appreciates books that teach healthy eating habits, she points out how well-meaning adults (or authors) can inadvertently cause food issues, which can lead to complexes, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Thank you, Dr. Brown, for sending in your review! We still need many more guest bloggers. There are a lot of books out there and only one (now two) of us. Email your reviews to storysurgeongeneral (at) gmail (dot) com!

Surgeon J. Brown's Review:

Well, let me just start out by saying that I wish I could give this book 0 stars, and then burn it. I do not even know where to begin... I am just so very, VERY disappointed. 

The Berenstain Bears books have been more or less popular for a few decades. This fact is part of what troubles me so much. I've read some of the other Berenstain books recently to my children, and they've been ok, but when I found this little gem (sarcasm), I was stunned.

When I was in nutrition school, and even more so since then, I have come to realize how many food issues people have, and how many of those issues are surrounded by feelings of guilt. That guilt almost inevitably leads to compulsion, and from there the cycle continues.

I understand that Stan Berenstain was attempting to help children to make better food choices, but he did it in all the wrong ways. 

Example #1
This is what inspires Mama to put the kids on a diet.

So, basically Mama bear wants her kids to stop eating junk food because they're getting "chubbier", not because she cares about their health. 

Example #2

 Papa's snack habits had caught up with him so he splits his pants?

Again, with the body shaming! Am I advocating unhealthy eating? Of course not. The problem I have here is with the idea that skinny = healthy. Health comes in all different sizes and shapes. This book should have focused more on how if we treat our bodies with care, they will be able to do amazing things. We will be able to run faster, live longer, and feel great! Not just look good in our clothes, or fail to "split the seat of our overalls wide open". 

If you'd like to learn more about the damage of body shaming, you should check out Beauty Redefined.

Too Much Junk Food gets a (PG) rating for content.  

Four stars. 

(The Star Ratings on this site are based solely on the amount of mature material. The less objectionable the content is, the higher the rating.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

All Our Yesterdays - (PG-13)


ALL OUR YESTERDAYS is a YA time-travel sci-fi that reads more like a YA mystery with a heavy romance angle. I started it in September, (before the blog) so I although went back and skimmed, I may have missed some of the content.

All Our Yesterdays is about a pair of kids that go four years into the past to murder someone destined to be a villain. It's an interesting moral dilemma and brings up thought-provoking issues. Unfortunately, the plot isn't quite as thought-provoking.

All Our Yesterdays gets a (PG-13) rating for content.  

Three stars. 

(The Star Ratings on this site are based solely on the amount of mature material. The less objectionable the content is, the higher the rating.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Spotlight - Brandon Mull (Certified Safe Author)

Several years ago I picked up the first Fablehaven book at random from the library. The first half was okay, but near the end I found myself getting genuinely freaked out. Not that it was violent or disturbing, Brandon just did a great job making the story seem real. I decided to give the second book in the series a try and I'm glad I did. (It was much better than the first.) Thus began my like-alot-affair with Mr. Mull. I've read most of his books and there's nary a swear word to be found. Nor is there anything sexual. The only thing parents might need to watch out for is mild fantasy violence and kids disobeying their elders. The covers below each represent entire series, so if you find you like Brandon's style you'll have enough material to last you through adolescence. (Or your midlife crisis.)


In general, the Fablehaven books get better as they go. (Although #2 will always be my favorite.) The Candy Shop Wars I enjoyed least, and I still haven't read the sequel. The first and second books in the Beyonders series were phenomenal (if you can overlook that stupid hippo) although by the third book, Brandon's horrible prose and meandering plotting was starting to get to me. The book still sits half finished in my locker at work.

I reiterate, the writing in these books is sub-par. Don't expect to be intellectually stimulated. Brandon does a whole lot of telling instead of showing and he loves him some adverbs. But if you're not a lit-snob like me, you shouldn't have any trouble losing yourself in the incredibly creative stories.

Brandon Mull's books get a blanket (G) rating for content.  

Five stars. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

More Resources For Parents - And a Call for Reviewers!

There are many great tools out there for parents wanting to protect there kids. Here are a few of my favorite.

As you can see from these awards, the K-9 internet filter does a great job filtering internet and gives parents total control without being overly complicated. The best part is that it's completely FREE! It can also be downloaded as an app (a web browser) on phones and tablets, which is how many teens access mature sites. Keep in mind that you have to put additional restrictions on the mobile devices along with K-9. (For example, with an iPhone, you have to go into Settings > Restrictions > Enable Restrictions (put in password) Then disable Safari and any other browsers.)

The Clearplay DVD filtering system requires purchase of their DVD player and a monthly subscription, but my family has found it completely worth the price. Month to month, it's $7, but the price gets less expensive as you buy time in bulk. The fact that I'm so cheap and still want to support this company shows how awesome it is. I mean, it turns rated R movies into PG ones! (Admittedly, there are a few skips and mutes, but the filters can be adjusted for your age/maturity level.)

If Clearplay is too much trouble or money, try the Kids In Mind website. My blogger friend, Krista VanDolzer told me about it and it seems even better than the screen-it website I mentioned in my first post. Basically, this site will tell you (for free) exactly what content is a specific movie. Keep in mind, however, they shoot ads at you (it's really annoying) in order to get you to pay for the ad-free version. It you're like me, however, no amount of ad-free-ness can make up for the free-ness.

Know about any other great resources? Please let us know in the comments section! (And for heaven sake, tell your friends about The Story Surgeon and SEND IN THOSE REVIEWS to storysurgeongeneral (at) gmail (dot) com. It doesn't have to be long or meticulous. Heck, it doesn't even have to be YA. We just need book titles and an idea of what's in it that parents might object to!) 

I've been doing advertising at work and around my neighborhood. I submit the pictures (below) as proof.

Now share this blog with anyone who has literate kids (or likes to read YA themselves!)  Or else.....(see last picture.)